For a few minutes I was the tallest thing in the continental USA as I stood at the summit of Mount Whitney. I made it to the 12,268 feet level back on June 11 but was prevented from going to the top by a dangerous and vast field of snow and ice. Since then I trained diligently and hiked and summited a series of local mountains in preparation: Mount Islip 8250 feet, Mount Baldy 10,064 feet, San Jacinto Mountain 10,834 feet, San Gorgonio 11,500 feet. Finally on Sunday I saw the spectacular views from the top of Whitney at 14,500 feet, summiting strong and with Shakti flowing.
The whole process has been a spiritual practice dedicated to Divine Mother, building a progressively deeper energetic connection with the Source of all Being and surrendering the small sense of self to the highest and fullest Self of which we are all a flickering emanation and manifestation.
You've probably already heard that I was bitten by a rattlesnake on San Jacinto yet somehow miraculously not poisoned...or had the poison transmuted into nectar! The blessings of the Mother continued to accrue during this wilderness adventure as well.
I arrived at the ranger station on Friday with friends Tony and Dan DJ P with no permits and no reservations. We arrived just before the 2 PM lottery drawing for the few remaining permits. The group leaders were assembled and I was chosen to pick first (boon #1 from Divine Mother). I put my hand in the jar and felt around for the right chip while reciting silent mantra (japa) of "Jai Ma" (DJ said he was doing the same!). I pulled my chip but did not look right away. When the process was almost done I opened my palm to discover that I had pulled chip #1! (boon #2) We were now first in line for a permit! Jai Ma! Somebody powerful wanted us to do this hike! Turns out there were only 4 overnight permits available and as there were 3 in our party, pulling number 2 would not have given us enough permits to do the overnight and we would have been obliged to try a much more difficult day hike (if day hike permits were even available).
We spent Friday at a sweet spot nearby called Lake Diaz where the ranger for some unknown reason decided we did not have to pay the fee! (boon #3). The weather that night and for the entire duration of the hike was moderate and windless and cloudless (boon #4). We began our hike late Saturday morning from Whitney Portal. After weighing in our packs we discovered that some of our party was packing too much weight, so we needed to have a good look at what was really needed for the overnight. Perfect weather.
Our first stop was the AMAZING Lone Pine Lake (only 2.5 miles, and easy day hike and worth the effort) a PERFECT snow melt fed mountain lake. From there we pushed on to Outpost Camp, where we camped overnight, nestled amongst surrounding peaks and pines in a cozy, rushing river valley. Weather could have easily been cold and windy at this time of year but it was calm and very mild. I slept under the stars in the open in my bivy.
Early Sunday morning at 4:35 am we hit the trail, leaving our extra gear and heavy packs behind, traveling light with just day packs. Headlamps and moonlight were more than enough to make out the well marked trail. As the sun emerged, every turn revealed more Beauty and the Beauty evolved as the light of the sun changed over time. Jai Ma!
Our party had its struggles, as all do, with some of us getting a serious dose of altitude sickness, but in the end we were all able to get to the end of the trail, summiting at about 1:30 PM. We enjoyed about an hour at the peak, where I did some yoga asana and chi kung to prepare for the long descent.
Throughout we were blessed with PERFECT weather...neither too warm nor too cold, windless (a major boon since high winds can easily sap strength and speed dehydration) and absolutely clear skies. We were told by a hiker that has summited 12 times that on that day the views were the most crystal clear that he has ever seen.
I'm planning on doing it again as a day hike next July/August to establish a record for the 55-59 age group (which does not yet exist). Of course someone will smash any time I set within a month, but it will give me a benchmark to work from. It's not about proving myself in any way, it's about what I am capable of allowing the Divine to manifest through this form. All is the glory of the Divine of which we are mere sparks and reflections. Jai Ma! Om Namah Shivaya! Om Shiva Shakti Om!
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